Bouncing back between his Baths
personas, Will Wiesenfeld has been a source of constant music releases for some time now. In 2013 he released the excellent Obsidian
, a dark record that dealt with themes like depression, anger, and suicide. This mix of catchy and well-crafted music had garnered the musician with a loyal following, from sold out shows to a communicative fanbase on Twitter
. His latest release, Romaplasm
, is another excellent effort, delivering almost too-sweet sounding highs with depressing romantic platitudes serving as the undertone. Wiesenfeld was kind enough to take some time and speak to me over the phone about the album.
ALEXANDER SPRUCH: When you set out to make Romaplasm, did you already have an idea of what you were going for?
WILL WIESENFELD: Yeah, I had song ideas sitting around. I didn't have a subject matter that was just sitting around like it was with Obsidian
I knew I wanted to make a dark record, I knew all the lyrics were going to be much darker. It was a more all-encompassing thing. But with this one, it was more just the energy of it. I knew what I wanted to get out of it. I knew for this one I wanted much faster BPM, shorter song times, a lot more percussive melodies - that was a thing that I kept going over in my head. Like bass lines and melodies when they were played has a sort of strong physical presence opposed to being more washy and pad-synthy. I wanted sounds to bounce off the rhythm itself, so the rhythm and bass lines work together to be this pulsing thing.
Those are some of the basic ideas. Moving forward a bunch of other stuff blossomed and I realized I was having the most fun writing about fantasy stuff and just formed the process from there.
AS: At the same time, not to downplay it, but there are moments where it dips its toes into sounding Obisidian-esque.
WW: Oh yeah, certainly. There is definitely negativity on there. I've heard descriptions of the album coming across as super sugary, saccharine, or those sort of things that where it basically makes it sound like a giant piece of candy. And that makes me uncomfortable because it's not that. There's really positive and bright moments but there's subject matter that is very dark and very weird. And it's still told through a fantasy lens that is a very different set of emotions. Indulging in fantasy doesn't mean only horseback rides and castles and magic shit like that. Sometimes its much darker and you're just sort of embellishing a very human narrative but it turns into fantasy because it's not 100% real life, you know? And that's kind of part of it too. Just sort of taking narratives and embellishing them so that they become a much more romanticized version of what they started out as.
AS: That makes me think of one lyric in particular, "Bravery and dauntlessness say nothing of discretion." There's a lot of moments like this, another one in the song "Abscond."
WW: Yeah, in "Broadback." I'm actually going to grab my lyric sheet. Both the CD and Vinyl come with full lyric foldouts that look really beautiful. It's a huge spread.
AS: I love it when an artist puts thought into the physical release.
WW: It's really well-designed. This guy, Corey Schmitz, a friend, he does a lot of more corporate projects, so he's really talented and has practiced in design. He and I geek out really hard on Designer's Republic, the people who made the Wipeout Series (futuristic racing game for Playstation).
AS: Oh yeah.
WW: Yeah, he was on that. So there's a lot of that inspiration for the design of the vinyl that ties into that. Playstation 1, 1998-era stuff. Very future, but like a pocketed future from the past.
AS: So you mentioned the reaction to the album involved some people calling it sugary. But overall how have you felt the reaction's been?
WW: It's been good. That was a very few select people who've said those sorts of things. It's mostly been, it's actually been all positive. I guess you wouldn't really get feedback like "this record sucks". But I also haven't really heard anything negative, or at least people haven't been tagging me in negative stuff. So that's nice. It seems like it's doing well.
AS: You're talking about reviews/criticisms that have been brought to your attention?
WW: More like just people on Twitter, that's where I get my feedback. I'm on Twitter all the time. I haven't gotten tagged in posts that are super negative. But maybe it's a bad feedback loop because it's like people who follow me are the people I see on Twitter. So they're usually people who would like the record.
AS: I feel like that's telling though, as it's a pretty different sound from the last few things you've put out, so the fact that people aren't rioting in the streets is good. Were you worried about that at all? Or did you think people would get it?
WW: I wasn't necessarily worried. What I am worried about while making a record is if it's going to be up to the standard that I set for myself. But before the record actually comes out, it's like: if it met what I was trying to do then that's sort of where the nervousness about it ends. If I made the record I wanted to make, that's it. That's all I need. Sometimes it takes longer to get there than I would want. Sometimes, there's been a couple cases where I put out a record that was less than my standard and it felt really bad. It was too far out from what I set out to do. There were a couple of Geotic records way back that I put out too fast. I look back and feel bad about it.
For the most part with the Baths records, I don't have that liberty. I really, really have to take my time with them. There's a lot of shit that goes into it. [Laughs] I don't have the opportunity to put it out too fast. It has to sit with me first so I can make sure I'm happy with it.
AS: Was Ocean Death a way to hold us over until the next full release?
WW: No, no. I wasn't expecting to put it out. Obsidian
was the statement record, you know? That was the thing. Ocean Death
was the B sides and some other stuff, and the song "Ocean Death" itself was made before Obsidian
, but I didn't think it fit with the record. It was just a thing that came together after that made sense. It sort of continued the theme and vibes of it and we put these songs out there otherwise I would just have them sitting around forever.
AS: Are you going to be touring the album a lot?
WW: Yes. We're building up a bunch of stuff right now. We announced a U.S. show last week and going back and forth right now for the European stuff. Possibly Japan, Australia, later in 2018 and other locations. All that stuff is in the works. My bandmate Moe and I have been working really hard on the live show. Moe's been trying really hard to get everything together especially.
AS: Nice, I think the album will play well especially in Japan.
WW: Thanks, I hope it does!
AS: I say that because, and tell me if I'm wrong, on the album, there are parts of it that sound inspired by video game music?
WW: That's accurate.
AS: [Laughs] Okay. I feel like the faster BPM, heavier bass, I feel like that's characteristic of any action game released ever.
W: Mhm, mhm.
AS: I feel like it's not prevalent in non-video game music.
WW: That's certainly true. I'm inspired by a fuckton of different media. I play video games, I watch a ton of anime, I read a lot of manga, I read books when I can. I'm super ADHD so it's usually harder to make my way through them unless it's a super page-turner... Yeah, I don't know, inspiration comes from all over the place. I think video games are the easiest things to immediately emote with. You're participating in the action that's going on, so it really comes at you fast.
AS: Playing anything now?
WW: I just finished up the new Mario which was a blast. I didn't have the time to 100% it but I had so much fun with it. I just downloaded Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami (an action RPG series on Playstation) because my two friends are obsessed with them and told me I should definitely try them.
AS: Nice, those are some good games. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
WW: Check out the record. I tweet all the time and there's a pinned tweet
with all the information on how to listen to it.